Corn farmers in the area chipped in $5,000 to $300,000 each -- some even mortgaged their farms -- to form the Central Illinois Energy Cooperative. They broke ground on the refinery in 2006, hoping that ethanol would bring higher prices for their corn and more jobs for Canton, which has been hurting since International Harvester closed its plow factory in 1983.
But the ethanol plant was a poor replacement. Central Illinois Energy, the corporation that built the plant, went bankrupt in December 2007 without producing a drop of fuel, hurt by construction delays and $40 million in cost overruns. The 260 farmers in the co-op lost every dime.